So you want to update your Olympus but are nervous? Try this...

Tapper

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For anyone who doesn't know, take a look here: https://lightsnowdev.com

This method lets you update your Olympus camera firmware by copying the update file to an SD card instead of using a tethered app.

In the end it's doing exactly the same thing as the Olympus software, but avoids some potential pitfalls. So, it's actually safer to update your firmware this way than the official way. If some of the recent horror stories about people bricking their new OMD's have unnerved you, then fear not. This is a pretty failsafe method.

The other day I emailed Jonathan (the developer of lightsnow dev, a computer science student in Germany), about adding the EM1.3 to the list and he was very nice and did so (see here). Since then I have successfully updated my EM1.3 to 1.2 firmware using this method, and it was very easy and smooth. I used a 100% charged battery, and a newly formatted SD card just to be safe. Other than that, it was a matter of following the simple directions. Highly recommended if you'd like to update your Olympus. You can also donate a few euros if you find it useful - I sent him 2 euros for a cup of coffee. :)

NOTE: sadly we cannot use this method to update lenses. For that we must use the Olympus software.
 
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DaveJP

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I think this is a great idea and, as you say, potentially safer than updating firmware directly through a computer; I haven't tried updating through the app yet. However, I would be naturally cautious of third party software. I would like to see that it's been very well tested, but don't want to be one of the guinea pigs! Mind you, if a computer science student can provide this it's a pity that Olympus can't.
 

John King

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I've done literally hundreds of firmware updates of all sorts of equipment using the 'Olympus method'. Including 5 of my own cameras, and many lenses. Also cameras belonging to family and friends.

If I can talk my brother through it over the phone, anybody can do it ...

Never had a single failure.

Lenses take longer than bodies due to narrow data path.

Just follow the instructions to the letter.
 

Growltiger

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I don't think there is any reason to believe this method is safer than the Olympus method. And it has disadvantages, the settings are not saved and you can't update lenses.

The main problem with the Olympus method is that the instructions are too hard for people in a hurry to follow correctly.
 
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I don't think there is any reason to believe this method is safer than the Olympus method. And it has disadvantages, the settings are not saved and you can't update lenses.

The main problem with the Olympus method is that the instructions are too hard for people in a hurry to follow correctly.

You are right about that: I did lose my settings with this update on the EM1 II. But I don't have a computer with an OS that is compatible with the Olympus software and I am glad I can use this method and keep my cameras up to date.
 

Tapper

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Always wear a tinfoil hat when doing this.
The originality of your wit is mesmerizing.

I've done literally hundreds of firmware updates of all sorts of equipment using the 'Olympus method'. Including 5 of my own cameras, and many lenses. Also cameras belonging to family and friends.

If I can talk my brother through it over the phone, anybody can do it ...

Never had a single failure.

Lenses take longer than bodies due to narrow data path.

Just follow the instructions to the letter.

And yet some people have reportedly had cameras bricked after following the instructions. And even if it was all user error, then lightsnow dev represents an excellent alternative, as it is extremely simple and easy to do, and requires no tethering or online.

It's also important to remember that despite your experience, it is not definitive.

I think this is a great idea and, as you say, potentially safer than updating firmware directly through a computer; I haven't tried updating through the app yet. However, I would be naturally cautious of third party software. I would like to see that it's been very well tested, but don't want to be one of the guinea pigs! Mind you, if a computer science student can provide this it's a pity that Olympus can't.

Agreed. If I understand correctly, all that is really happening here is lightsnow figured out how to get the raw update data that the Olympus software downloads and extracts to the camera. So, it's not really any sort of hack or even "software" in the typical sense. Just a circumvention of the official method of acquiring the update data.
 
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I think this is a great idea and, as you say, potentially safer than updating firmware directly through a computer; I haven't tried updating through the app yet. However, I would be naturally cautious of third party software. I would like to see that it's been very well tested, but don't want to be one of the guinea pigs! Mind you, if a computer science student can provide this it's a pity that Olympus can't.
What third party software is involved ? Windows Explorer ?
 

Michael Meissner

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I think this is a great idea and, as you say, potentially safer than updating firmware directly through a computer; I haven't tried updating through the app yet. However, I would be naturally cautious of third party software. I would like to see that it's been very well tested, but don't want to be one of the guinea pigs! Mind you, if a computer science student can provide this it's a pity that Olympus can't.
In the case of lightsnowdev, what is provided is just copies of the .BIN files from Olympus. When the E-m5 mark III was not on the list, with some hints from others, I was able to find the location of the files, and download them myself, and update my E-m5 mark III. You just have to name the file appropriately (put it into a DCOLYMP directory with the name E<num>9999.BIN, where <num> corresponds to the camera number -- 137 for the E-m5 mark III, 139 for the E-m1 mark III).

This is for the people doing cleanings and stuff in the field, where they have one SD with all of the latest firmware installed, and they can instantly load the latest firmware. Why Olympus does not expose this file like most companies, I don't know. Note, unlike Panasonic, you can install previous versions, which I needed to do once or twice with the E-m1 mark I when a bad firmware went out, before the fix went in.

Several months ago I tried to send mail to the lightsnowdev site about the E-m5 mark III, and it never went through. It is good the E-m5 mark III and E-m1 mark III are now listed.
 

OldRex

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A few year back now, when I got my first micro-4/3, an OMD EM5-II with the 12-40 2.8 Pro, I bricked the 12-40 Pro doing an update. I was devastated. I took it to Olympus Service here is Sydney, which was fortunately relatively near where I live. They suggest I write up my story about what happened and send it to them. The result was a no-charge repair of the lens.

The bottom line is that I am extremely tech savvy, experienced etc. yet this still happened. I never managed to work out what went wrong, but I suspect I was the culprit.
I have since done every single update to bodies and lenses using the various iterations of the Olympus software without a hitch, yet that first time still leaves me anxious about the outcome each time.

I would not hesitate to use this method or the standard Olympus one. What I would hesitate to do is to rush to install a new version of the firmware before some braver souls have had a chance to do some field testing on it.
 

Carbonman

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I used the .BIN file sideload on my E-M1 III and had to re-enter basically everything manually including the date, copyright etc. information. Fortunately I have the E-M1 II set up as similarly as possible and was able to reference virtually everything from it as I redid the menu configuration.
I'll use the Workspace link from now on.
 

John King

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I used the .BIN file sideload on my E-M1 III and had to re-enter basically everything manually including the date, copyright etc. information. Fortunately I have the E-M1 II set up as similarly as possible and was able to reference virtually everything from it as I redid the menu configuration.
I'll use the Workspace link from now on.
Graham, even if you do use the card method, you can still use OWS to save and reload your settings manually before and after.
 
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I have a suspicion that people who've bricked cameras via firmware update (myself included.... once) are impatient, I've found that if a firmware update does fail, it fails before the point of no return. I have bricked a camera once, I was impatient and pulled the battery door out thinking it had failed, it was in progress and that's when it bricked. Turning the power off, pulling the USB cable out etc, the update was still flashing on the screen, I think Olympus does put in safe guards to prevent an update from failing once in progress. Again though, their technical documentation is lacking so much it's impossible to tell.

The biggest problems with Olympus's updater for me are:
  • No way to recover from a bricked firmware update. It's not the 90s any more, we have ways to verify a firmware update was successful and ways to recover from it if not.
  • The E-M1X (and probably others) won't update unless both batteries are pretty much at 100%. This is fine, the E-M1X is a beast, but communicate this during the process somewhere.
  • Cameras with a USB-C port won't update unless the cable is connected directly to a USB 3 port. USB 2 ports won't work (at least for me, no idea what happens if you're updating on a computer without a USB 3 port, but again, this isn't the 90s any more) and it won't work if I'm connected to a USB 3 port on the extremely stable USB 3 hub on my monitors.
Despite all this though, I'll continue to use Olympus's method. If I use Olympus Updater and it fails, that's on them. If I use an unsupported method and it fails, that's on me.

Also, if you guys think that updating lenses takes a while, wait till you update an E-M1X, those things take a good 5-10 nerve racking minutes.
 

whumber

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I have a suspicion that people who've bricked cameras via firmware update (myself included.... once) are impatient, I've found that if a firmware update does fail, it fails before the point of no return. I have bricked a camera once, I was impatient and pulled the battery door out thinking it had failed, it was in progress and that's when it bricked. Turning the power off, pulling the USB cable out etc, the update was still flashing on the screen, I think Olympus does put in safe guards to prevent an update from failing once in progress. Again though, their technical documentation is lacking so much it's impossible to tell.

The problem is that the vast majority pf people report getting the big "OK" message. It seems more like the issue is that the update process is dependent on a continuous USB connection and any error can screw up the entire process.
 

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